Director of the Center for
Tim Luzader, director of the Center for Career Opportunities, says he loves his job for the variety and the sense of service he feels when helping students transition to the world of work.
The CCO assists students in their career decision-making and in their job search processes. With more than 12,000 students expected to receive individual assistance on a walk-in or pre-scheduled appointment basis, and at least that many involved in employer interviews hosted by the center, Luzader is proud of the CCO team's role in making a difference in students' lives.
What does your position entail?
Beyond the typical administrative duties of a department head — including campus collaborations, budgeting and personnel planning — I engage CCO staff in strategic planning, and I establish direction for the center. That is, I help empower staff to effectively address the needs of students.
How does the CCO help students?
In addition to individual assistance, we give approximately 500 presentations each year on career and job search topics to groups across campus such as clubs, Greek houses and residence halls. By invitation from professors, we can be added to course syllabi to present in classrooms on relevant career topics. More than half of our campus presentations this year occurred in the classroom.
Most students are familiar with our robust website of resources, including CCO Express, a tool that the center uses to connect students and alumni with all types of employers. We also support the Purdue University Career Wiki, a comprehensive online resource that helps students conduct career and job search-related research.
One particularly important role is the relationship we build with employers. Given our volume of activity, this is a major investment of time and resources that pays off very nicely for students. Employers routinely cite the CCO as being topmost among our contemporaries at competing institutions.
What is one student issue you are currently facing?
This is a campus with an extraordinary culture of employer recruitment. We are among the most heavily recruited campuses in the country. However, because of this culture, students in fields of interest that are not aggressively sought-after at job fairs may believe that they have chosen the wrong major, or that there are no jobs out there for them. Neither is true, and postgraduate surveys counter this idea. Instead, these students should employ an expanded job search strategy to find different ways to make those same connections. We can help students with their search and in their effort to make the right connections with potential employers.
This year, our campus has experienced about 1,300 unique companies sending representatives to West Lafayette. Per usual, most of the recruitment activity took place in the fall and winter. After spring break, relatively few employers are visiting campus in person to recruit students. Inevitably, though, we’ll encounter some students who did not previously engage in recruitment activities but are now ready to do so. We still have employer visit options, such as the Just-in-Time Job Fair that the CCO will host April 17, but it behooves these students to prepare for conducting a more broad-based job search strategy.
We welcome them to make an appointment with a CCO counselor to discuss their job search interests. Also, if they haven’t already done so, students are encouraged to register and to upload resumes in CCO Express. On nearly a daily basis, employers contact the CCO requesting resumes of students who qualify for their opportunities. If students don’t have a CCO Express account, their resumes won’t be available for these referrals.
What improvements are being made to the CCO?
In June, we are scheduled to relocate to the first and second floors of Young Hall. This is an exciting development for students and employers alike. We will have actual rooms — versus cubicles — for both career counseling and employer interviews. This upgrade in space quality will enhance the experiences for everyone involved. We will also have "smart rooms" with technology to support long-distance interviews, webinars and workshops.
What drew you to career services?
I initially worked in my family's businesses and as a young adult became successful as a salesman, then as a sales manager in a Fortune 500 company. However, I realized that just because I'm good at something doesn't mean I have to do it. I wanted to make a meaningful contribution to others, and I was not fulfilling this desire to the degree that I wanted in that sales position.
At West Virginia University, I gained an internship experience in career services and enjoyed combining my business background with being in a helping profession. After achieving progressive positions in four universities and 31 years later, I still love what I do and found this career choice to be a perfect fit for me.